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A Journal on Internal Medicine


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Minerva Medica 2003 February;94(1):41-50

language: Italian

Falls in the elderly

Gareri P., Pantusa A., Rocca F., Ruotolo G., Galasso D., De Sarro G.


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Falls are the main causes of accidental death and disability in elderly people, since they may especially cause hip fractures and a number of related complications. Available incidence estimates are surely in defect, because falls are often omitted both by patients, their family and caregivers. Risk factors may be classified in intrinsic and extrinsic; the former include muscular and osteoarticular diseases or other favouring conditions, whilst the latter include environmental or iatrogenic factors, such as drugs or alcohol consumption. Extrinsic factors may be rapidly modified in the elderly and thus prevented. In fact, prevention of falls is the main intervention of geriatrist, both at patient's home and if patient is hospitalized. In order to reduce the risk of falls, it is sometimes sufficient to stop a treatment or to reduce the doses of drugs causing sedation or orthostatic hypotension, to avoid if possible, the use of sedative-hypnotics, to use non-pharmacological methods for treating insomnia. The introduction of the necessary changes in the environment, the promotion of physical activity, the individuation of the subjects with a high risk of falls and the use of hip protectors are useful means for preventing falls and avoiding their harmful consequences.

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